Irises are the flower of the rainbow. Irisarians have names for various color patterns: Many of these names have a long history with meanings that have become refined over time. You can follow the links for more information about each class.
At the time the 1939 American Iris Society Checklist was published what were called Color Shows were common. These have been largely replaced today by Varietal Shows. Color Shows were largely unworkable because there is often no agreement on what color a particular Iris should be called. The 1939 checklist provided color codes for various color classifications, so that arguments could be settled at such shows. These codes representing a particular classification were published in the early checklists. The color codes used in the 1939 and 1949 checklists were revised in 1949 to a more workable classification. Unfortunately the color codes, although appearing somewhat the same took on slightly different meanings. Codes used in 1939 such as W2 or B3 were not exactly equivalent to W2 or B3 in descriptions after 1949. Because of there similarity some later Irises were assigned the older color codes by mistake. After these types of shows were largely abandoned the official checklist gradually eliminated the color codes. But classification of color continued and In the 1960s, and 70s J. Arthur Nelson wrote two pamphlets on Color Classification.
Describing color in a checklist has always been a challenge and various color charts have been created to aid in this description. Even then in different lighting the same individual may decide on a different color description for the same flower. Color remains one of the greatest challenges for people describing an iris. But difficulty is no excuse for not trying. Despite the fact that different people see color differently and color moniters on different computers can display color differently one still appreciates the attempt, and the photo that gives us something to work from, even with its imperfections.
Prior to digital images Kodachrome film often represented "Blue" irises with more red-tone than was natural, making them more lavender. Conversely digital images often loose lose too much of the red-tone making them seem bluer than real life. A collection of images from both sources will lead some to jump to the conclusion that there are two different irises being depicted. It has been suggested to "Dumb Down" the archive of images of a cultivar so the viewer will not be confronted by these visual disparities. But we have chosen to believe in the sophistication of our audience and continue to offer a historical archive as it stands.
-- Main.RPries - 2010-09-09